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Beauty and Sadness (1964)

by Yasunari Kawabata

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
9912714,639 (3.76)74
The successful writer Oki has reached middle age and is filled with regrets. He returns to Kyoto to Otoko, a young woman with whom he had a terrible affair many years before, and discovers that she is now a painter, living with a younger woman as her lover. Otoko has continues to love Oki and has never forgotten him, but his return unsettles not only her but also her young lover. This is a work of strange beauty, with a tender touch of nostalgia and a heartbreaking sensitivity to those things lost forever.… (more)
  1. 10
    After the Banquet by Yukio Mishima (Anonymous user)
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» See also 74 mentions

English (17)  Spanish (7)  Italian (1)  Dutch (1)  Catalan (1)  All languages (27)
Showing 1-5 of 17 (next | show all)
"You shouldn't think such thoughts. A young girl who thinks like that is haunted by the ghosts of the past. Maybe that's why your neck is so slender and wraithlike. Beautifully slender, of course." ( )
  uncleflannery | May 16, 2020 |
Oki, uno scrittore sposato e con un figlio, ha avuto una drammatica storia d'amore con una sedicennee, Otoko. 30 anni dopo parte per cercarla e passare con lei la notte del primo dell'anno. Durante la permanenza nella casa di Otoko, affermata pittrice, Oki conosce la sua allieva Keiko, una ragazza senza scrupoli innamorata della sua mentore. Questo, scatenerà una serie di nefasti eventi che cambieranno per sempre la vita dei personaggi.
Apprezzo sempre tantissimo la poesia degli scrittori giapponesi, quando leggo un loro libro mi sembra di camminare su un tappeto di piume perchè ogni parola è pesata, ogni immagine è poetica, anche quelle negative o tragiche.
In questo libro, che narra le vincende di un complicato intreccio amoroso a tre (che poi diventerà a quattro) , ho ritrovato la malinconia tipica degli scritti giapponesi ma anche la bellezza delle immagini e dei richiami artistici e della natura: quadri, tombe antiche, santuari, montagne e laghi.
Sono contenta di averlo letto e sicuramente leggerò altro di questo autore.
( )
  Feseven78 | Apr 17, 2019 |
Kawabata's prose is delightfully clear. The descriptions of the landscape, natural world, and architecture brilliantly animate the world of Beauty and Sadness. While melodramatic at times, the relationships written about here feel strong. This novel (in my view) is really about Keiko. She is intense and emotional and difficult to understand. Even at the close of the novel her true intentions remained unclear to me. The joy of this novel was trying to fathom these characters. ( )
  jakebornheimer | Mar 27, 2019 |
While I loved Kawabata's morality tale, it certainly helps not to think about it. Beauty and Sadness may then be emblematic of my holiday weekend. I finally felt good and productive after nasty sinus issues. I ran errands, rode my bike every day, my wife was home and my best friend was in from New York. The suddenly while laughing with two of my favorite people, I recognized how seldom I am able to simply hang out with Joel and my wife, drink beer and talk about Sarkozy and Terrence Stamp. Did i mention the very popular skewering of Freedom and all matter Jonathan Franzen? Kawabata's novel is like that. The moody novelist certainly possesses vision. Why does he molest or seduce a teenager? Well, we really never know. The reader can empathize with the wife through her sufferings and the sensation of having such experiences committed to literature. each royalty check bearing further humiliation. The point lingers that we don't understand the agency within the novel. The victims and targets are carefully explicated without the same effort extended to the protagonists.
( )
  jonfaith | Feb 22, 2019 |
Kawabata's last novel. The situation is a little bit like a Japanese version of Lotte in Weimar in reverse - twenty years ago, Oki published what has become his best loved and most famous novel, telling the story of a tragic, destructive love-affair between a married man and a sixteen-year-old girl. In the meantime, it's become an open secret that the girl in the story was based on Otoko, who is now a well-known painter living in Kyoto. Otoko is in a relationship with her pupil, a younger woman called Keiko. Oki spontaneously decides to visit Kyoto and look up his former lover for the first time since they broke up, and of course stirs up a lot of old and new passions in the process.

There's a lot of beautifully serene evocation of Japanese tradition and history, unexpectedly - but very effectively - set against a story of boiling passions and the unhealed harm people do to each other. And some very interesting glimpses at the complex ways that art and life intersect, both for writers and for visual artists. I particularly liked the little digressions into the physicality of the writing process, and the differences between the effect of manuscript, typescript, woodblock and movable type. And the well where the 12th century writer Fujiwara Teika is said to have drawn water for his inkstone.

There is - probably inevitably - an element of male voyeurism in the way Kawabata writes about the relationship between the two women, with rather more discussion of breasts than we really need, but there's also an intriguingly offbeat fascination with body odour (male as well as female) that you probably wouldn't find in a western novel. And - just like The sound of the mountain - we shouldn't allow all the obi-tying and bath-running to distract us from the way the story is driven by strong female characters. Another superb miniature. ( )
  thorold | May 17, 2018 |
Showing 1-5 of 17 (next | show all)
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Yasunari Kawabataprimary authorall editionscalculated
Hibbett, HowardTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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Five swivel chairs were ranged along the other side of the observation car of the Kyoto express.
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It seems strange for a tomb to create a memory
It's fearful when a woman gives herself completely
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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An edition of this book was published by Penguin Australia.

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